Thursday, March 14, 2013

Interview with Rodrigo Malta, Director of MBA Admissions at Texas McCombs

I am pleased to present an interview with Rodrigo Malta, the Director of MBA Admissions at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin

The School and Curriculum

1.      Can you highlight one or two areas of strengths in terms of the curriculum of the McCombs MBA?

At McCombs we are proud to have a MBA program that is strong across multiple disciplines providing our students with unparalleled flexibility in their studies.  A couple key areas to highlight from a curriculum and concentration perspective would be our strengths in the Energy and Innovation/Technology space.  We not only capitalize on our faculty’s research expertise in these areas but also take full advantage of the fact that we are based in Texas (hub for all things Energy) and the city of Austin (hub for innovation/technology).

2.      Can you give an example of how the location of your program (Austin, Texas) adds value to the experience?

We are very fortunate to be located in the city of Austin as the state’s flagship institution.  The feeling of collaboration that is palpable in our MBA program is echoed in Austin thus enabling our students to have a slew of hands-on opportunities in the city’s vibrant business community.  Be it with internships in a large technology company like Apple or a micro-consulting project with a local start up, our students (and faculty) are very connected with the overall Austin community.  Another additional “value” of being in Austin, is its relative low cost of living when compared to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.  Your Japanese Yen will definitely stretch a little further in Austin.

3.      Does McCombs teach leadership any differently than other schools? 

Our MBA students are known for their ability to roll up their sleeves and get things done - this is a direct reflection of how McCombs teaches leadership to our MBA students.  We value not only leaders that can successfully manage teams, but also highlight the importance of being a strong team players in individual contributor roles.   We emphasize this to our MBA students through our Texas MBA+ Leadership Program and our MBA Fellows Programs which enable our students to have hands-on experiences in both leading and also working in teams.

4.      Which of your concentrations are the most popular among current students?

The most popular concentrations (and career direction) post MBA at Texas-McCombs are consulting, finance and marketing.  Our Entrepreneurship concentration is also very popular with current students.

5.      Can you tell us a bit about the Texas MBA+ Leadership Program? Can students pick and choose the activities they wish to join?

The Texas MBA+ Leadership program is one of the highlights of our student’s experience at McCombs.  This is a purely optional program, but the majority of our students take part in one or more activities offered to them.  Three main aspects comprise the MBA+ Leadership Program.  The first being our MBA+ projects – micro consulting projects where a small group of MBAs work with companies/organizations on a limited scope engagement lasting 4-6 weeks.  This is done in parallel to our classes and takes place in any semester of the student’s MBA studies.  Recent company projects include Texas Rangers, Deloitte, Adobe, 3M, amongst many others.  The second aspect of the program revolves around industry-oriented and leadership seminars designed to expand upon the knowledge and understanding that is delivered through the classroom.  The third aspect is one on one communication coaching available to all MBA students.  Our communication coaches prepare students to make stronger, more lasting impressions—whether at corporate receptions, career fairs or alumni gatherings; when presenting a new product or service to a Fortune 1000 company; or when pitching an idea to future investors. Through one-on-one coaching, students learn to collaborate productively and communicate dynamically.


6.      Is there a minimum TOEFL score you hope to see? How about on the listening and speaking subsections? According to the class profile section of your website the average TOEFL score is 107 - what's the range?

We do not have a minimum TOEFL to enter the program and as you mentioned above our average TOEFL score is about 107.  We do not publish the range of our TOEFL scores and value the interview as a key piece in determining the applicant’s English speaking abilities.

7.      You rely primarily on alumni to conduct interviews - at least that is the case in Japan. Can you tell us a bit about how you collect feedback from them after the interview has been completed? What kind of things are you looking for?

All alumni interviewers are properly trained to be admissions ambassadors and we value their feedback equally to those that interview on campus with students/admissions officers.  We collect feedback electronically through our admissions management system and are looking for leadership potential, evidence of strong team work and a lot of Texas love (i.e. program research) in the interview.

8.      In your first application essay you ask how an applicant's "professional and personal experiences have led you to pursue an MBA at this time".  Why do you ask about personal experiences? What are you looking for?

We ask about personal experience because we want to learn as much about the applicant as possible, both on the professional and personal side.  We look at the admissions process being the first interaction of a relationship between the applicant and McCombs that will hopefully last a lifetime. 

Life After the MBA

9.      How active are your alumni in Japan? (note: a majority of the readership of this blog is based in Japan)

Our Japanese alumni are very involved with the school post graduation.  They are great at helping us during recruiting events in Japan and hosting our admissions interviews throughout Japan.  Additionally, McCombs has an official alumni chapter in Tokyo which provides a forum for our undergraduate and graduate McCombs alumni to interact and network.  Our Texas MBA Japanese alumni are also very helpful in keeping our Japanese website updated.

Thanks Rodrigo for your time!

John Couke